Charlotte's Uptown Apartment Boom

Charlotte's historical gems survive amidst its expanive growth in center city.

Charlotte is seeing massive growth in center city. Buyers are indulging in the remerging low-rise, high-rise, mixed use and residential units. According to Doug Smith of The Observer, there are 14 high-rise projects that have been announced or proposed inside the loop. Within the next few years it is expected that there will be at least 10,000 living in Uptown.

While this boom is a relatively new concept in modern-day Charlotte, it’s not the first time the city has seen this type of growth. The 1920s ushered in expansion and change in Charlotte as well as throughout the country. Plenty of residents lived in and around downtown Charlotte during this period, typically in areas where businesses and homes were intertwined. Apartment listings swelled from 35 in 1920 to 122 by 1929.

While multi-family living arrangements and apartments were typical in the larger cities of the North, it wasn’t a common trend in the South. Money wasn’t as abundant. The population wasn’t nearly as large, and land was plentiful. According to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission (CHLC), Charlotte’s first apartment homes appeared shortly after the turn of the twentieth century. But it took another 25 years for its popularity to explode.

Charlotte’s growth and influx of new residents inspired a need arose for multi-family living. CHLC states that the building boom of apartments in downtown Charlotte was a “direct response to the decade's rapid population increase and the resultant need to house large numbers of new residents.”

Early apartment living consisted two different unit types: the bachelor apartment and the housekeeping unit. The bachelor apartment was generally smaller with one bedroom and bathroom and little or no kitchen facilities or public rooms. The housekeeping unit was better suited for family living with living and dining rooms and a full kitchen.

While larger projects have replaced these structures, a few of the more architecturally beautiful buildings uptown have survived.

The Addison Apartments at 831 E. Morehead exemplified mid-rise development during this period. The nine-story building originally had 64 units. It’s now used as an office.

The Frederick is another example of higher end building in the Fourth Ward. The craftsmanship and finishes of the building give away the original owner’s occupation, a local distributer of fine building materials. Located at 515 N. Church Street, the Frederick has three stories with 36 units and is currently rented as apartments. Its current owner updated the building in 2000/2001.

The Poplar is another Fourth Ward survivor. Located at 301 W. 10th Street, the building has 39 units on five floors. It was considered to be one of the more upper-end apartment buildings in the city during the 1920s. The Poplar was converted to condominiums in 1980.

The Tyron House serves as one of the more affordable places to live in the downtown area. Built in two phases, it straddles an entire block and has entrances on both Church Street and Tryon.

The Great Depression reined in the construction boom that dominated the 1920s. While other growth spurts have since erased significant parts of Charlotte’s history, a few architectural endeavors from this period still survive, giving the city its own piece of timeless flair.

Scott Lindsley is a realtor/broker for Urban Realty

Zillow Real Estate Search


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